NEWARK, Del.— To most players on the ASU hockey team, the Fred Rust Ice Arena where the national tournament is being played is just another rink.
To some, it’s where they learned how to skate.
Senior forward Troy Scott and freshman forward Tommy Cooney both grew up in West Grove, Pa., 15 miles from the arena. They attended Avon Grove High School together and went to skating lessons at Fred Rust Ice Arena and the connecting facility, the Fred Rust Gold Arena.
“All these guys are coming to a new environment but me and Troy grew up here, so it’s good to come back,” Cooney said.
Scott played most of his precollegiate hockey in Delaware. He played with the Delaware Ducks, a youth hockey team, then played in middle school with Cooney. Scott is two years older than Cooney, but they continued to play together in high school.
The Avon Grove High School hockey team was coached by Scott’s dad. The team’s practice facility? Fred Rust Ice Arena.
“This is probably where my career will be ending and the first place I started to skate at, and take skating lessons from as a three-year-old was on the Gold rink in the back” Scott said. “This is very special coming back.”
As a senior, Scott’s college career will end one way or another this week. In a worst-case scenario for Scott, ASU loses Monday in the semifinal game. In a best-case, Scott hoists the Murdoch Cup, given to the ACHA national championship, after playing in his last college game.
“I think that would be the most fitting way to go out, in your home town in front of your friends and family,” Scott said. “In front of this team especially. This team is what makes it makes it special more than the venue.”
Because of the proximity to their hometown, Scott and Cooney have had a good number of friends and family come and support them.
“I was sort of overwhelmed by how many people were there for me, just seeing them after the game,” Scott said.
Scott and Cooney’s friendship goes back years, and it’s that friendship that is a big reason why Cooney is a Sun Devil.
The national tournament was last held in Delaware in 2011. That was Scott’s freshman year at ASU, and Cooney came to watch his old friend play in the tournament. He fell in love with the school, started talking to ASU coach Greg Powers and knew he wanted to go to ASU.
Despite all the good memories the pair have in the arena, they both agreed that winning a national championship together at ASU would be the best of them all.
“This would mean everything in the world to me, just to win in front of my fans in a stadium I’m so familiar with,” Scott said.
“It would be unreal,” Cooney said. “It would top all the memories, even starting playing hockey and learning how to play, it would be number one for sure.”
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J15Emerson